Liverpool vs Leicester
| Wednesday, January 30th |
Premier League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
By the time kickoff rolls around Wednesday night, it will have been 267 hours since Liverpool last played competitive football; an eternity for fans impatient to see the Reds emerge as league winners for the first time in nearly three decades, but likely a welcome break for the players following the busy holiday schedule.
Coming to Anfield and looking to spoil the party are Claude Puel’s Leicester City. The Foxes — just two and a half years removed from lifting the trophy themselves — sit 9th in the Premier League table, 29 points off the league leaders, but only two points behind Watford in seventh.
Since beating Manchester City back in December, Puel’s men have lost four of their last five in all competitions, including an FA Cup exit to League Two side Newport County, and a 2-1 defeat to 10-man Southampton. Their previous visit to Merseyside did end up a success however, as the Foxes beat Everton on New Year’s Day; their last game without a defeat.
Daniel Amartey notwithstanding, Leicester arrive at Anfield sporting a clean bill of health, meaning 32-year old Jamie Vardy will be supported by former Liverpool target James Maddison, Demarai Gray, and Marc Albrighton, while the colossal cranium of Harry Maguire will do its very best to get in the way of any Liverpool threat to the visitors’ goal.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Fabinho, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Mané, Firmino, Salah
Less healthy is the Reds squad, who, despite their R&R trip to Dubai, are still missing Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back through injury, with Virgil van Dijk a gameday decision due to illness. James Milner misses out through suspension — albeit probably just as well, given his struggles at fullback in the his last outing — and Jürgen Klopp will have to choose between converted youth winger Rafa Camacho and former fullback Fabinho to man the right side of defense.
In midfield, a midfield three of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta could be on the table, unless Klopp opts for the 4-2-3-1, in which case Xherdan Shaqiri could be preferred to the Guinean. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — all coming off goals against Crystal Palace — will form the attacking trident.
By the time kickoff arrives, Liverpool will either be a solitary point ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, making the contest a must-win, or, courtesy of former manager and eternal Red Rafa Benitez, have a chance to extend their lead to their title rivals. Regardless, home ties with mid-table teams are exactly the sort of banana peels the Reds can’t afford to step on if they are to end their title drought in 2019.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We expect a very, very good side and I’m really happy that it’s a Wednesday night game because I hope that our supporters feel the need of real support. It’s a while ago that we played at home, 10 days or so, so we are again really looking forward to it. ”
Claude Puel: “My players prefer to play against good teams like this and to show their level. It’s less pressure, they can give their best with freedom. In this situation we can create an upset.”
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant referees: Stephen Child, Lee Betts
Fourth official: David Coote
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.